Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not Real Bright

Reuters tells us that California wants to ban lightbulbs. Now why do I believe this ?
The "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" -- no, I'm not making this up, that's the bill's name -- is to be introduced in the California legislature this week, and it would ban ordinary incandescent lightbulbs by 2012. Californians desiring light would have to purchase fluorscent lightbulbs.
The Lightbulb Bill's author and chief proponent, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), says that incandescent lightbulbs are inefficient and use too much energy.
I wonder if Assemblyman Levine has ever heard of the US Constitution and the commerce clause ? Might mean lights-out for this idea.

A New Windbag

Joe Biden enters the presidential race, eh ? Clearly we are to be spared nothing! Two-plus years of listening to Biden drone his way down the campaign trail. . .then the possibility of four years of listening to President Biden, who can never shut up ? Mein Lieber Gott!
Senator Biden demonstrated his patented tin ear and flapping gums just today, when he spoketh stupideth of Saint Barak of Obama. In case you've been in outer Mongolia these past six months, Saint Barak is the "moderate" and "centerist" that the journos have tapped as the new Messiah. You know, the "moderate" with the 95 percent ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) rating ?
Anyway, Biden sorta messed up. A gaffe first day on the trail ? Pretty stupid, Senator. As Former Spook points out at In from the Cold, lucky for him he's not Trent Lott and has a friendly press corps flying top cover.
If we must have a Demowimp President, (and it seems we must), a third term for Slick Willie looks better all the time. Slick's relatively entertaining for a Socialist, as well as more or less incompetent at anything other than self-promotion so I don't suppose he could do too much damage. Besides, it would drive Gore bonkers.
On another subject this week: still somewhat inactive in the blogging department. Other stuff going on, but El Jefe will no doubt quit brooding in the palace and issue some decrees presently.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Impeachment Watch

Zombietime has an interesting collection of impeach-fest pictures from some beach in California. Wacko bumper-stickers, helicopter worship, tinfoil loons -- Zombietime has it all. Hopefully he also has plenty of soap.

Anemic Posting

I'm sure that it's somewhat noticeable that my posting has been down since Christmas. Just not into 07 yet; too much goofing around at the country place on weekends; a couple of family issues; getting the Heir going in Boy Scouts; kiddo sporting events; and, a bunch of other good and not-so-good excuses. Yeah, they expect me to work too.
Seriously, I have a couple of half-baked projects I promise to finish. Lots interesting going on in the world, so I will certainly be back up to speed soon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

SWMBO, Don't Read This !

No reason for this post, except that I really just wanted to link to this Sharon Stone picture.

Our Lunatic Congress

Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North's indictment of our new rulers cannot be improved on by me, and I hope you'll take the time to read it. Further comment by me is simply superfluous.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Khameini Dead, Chapter XLI

El Jefe secret police headquarters (a/k/a tracking software) is noting visits from all over the world from people wondering if the Iranian Valî-ye Faqîh, (“Guardian Jurisprudent”), Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini -- is dead.
As I noted earlier, Pajamas Media and Michael Ledeen reported his demise back on the 4th -- and it appears that the man is at the least -- very sick.
Since the weekend, though, I have had a lot of visits from people interested in this subject -- apparently people trollling around looking for information. Sorry folks, I have no information whatever on Ali Shah's condition. But the interest is damned interesting. If you know something, or think you do, drop a comment.

Well, Duh

Rolling Stone agrees with me that Al Gore-- America's own block of wood/Robot-Mars Lander -- pick your metaphor, is the Democrats' ideal candidate. As if you didn't know, "Run Al Run" by Tim Dickinson, pretty much clues you in as to where Rolling Stone stands on a Gore candidacy.
James Carville, who qualifies as an expert, says he'd be "shocked" if Gore didn't run. So would I. A Republican consultant, Frank Luntz, positively gushes that ALGORE is: ". . . an icon. Imagine that: Al Gore, Mr. Straight and Narrow, Mr. Dull on Wheels -- no he's culturally cool." (emphasis in original).
Cool ? Gore's more boring than the Internal Revenue Code and ten times more dangerous.
The fact that so many millions would crawl on glass for this man and really do believe ALGORE's "cool" tells you all you need to know right there about what's wrong with the Demowackos.
Ever since Katrina, I have been convinced that this man was our collective fate. God help us.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

No Kerry Next Time

John Kerry has finally learned what the rest of us have known for months: that he will not be running for President in 2008.
There is still an opening on Hillary's left. Saint Barak of Obama would like to fill it, but I don't think he has the horses. Watch Edwards, and watch for the reappearance of Al Gore.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hey Khamenei, You There ?

Without going into details, it appears there is somewhat of a spike, in the last 48 or so hours --in interest, from multiple sources, in the Iranian "Supreme Jurisiprudent" Ayatollah Ali, "Shah Ali" Khamenei. Does the Great Internet know something we don't ?

Louis XVI and the French Revolution

In looking over my post on the creation of the German Empire a few days back, (18 January), I realized that today was the anniversary, in 1793, of the execution of King Louis XVI by the revolutionary mob in Paris. Louis XVI was a terrible king, but he did nothing meriting execution. Americans in particular have reason to remember him fondly, as he saw to it that France aided the American rebels in the War of Independence. (1775-1783).
Being interested in history, and having opinions on it, I confess to serious ambivalence about the French Revolution. Although I am a great admirer of Napoléon I, one of the Revolution's primary beneficiaries, in general; and think the Old Regime made poor use of a whole nation of talented people, I do not sympathize with the Révolution Française, much, especially after it turned radical. Too bad it couldn't have been stopped cold in about 1791 (after the Bastille had fallen, and the king made to accept a constitution, but before the end of the monarchy and the reign of terror). After that, the best thing about the French Revolution was Napoléon's ending it.

FLINKY and Blogging

It is somewhat hard to work with one's blog, when FLINKY (one of the Feline High Patronesses of El Jefe's kingdom), insists on napping on the mouse pad.
The present is definitely one of those times. I think that FLINKY is hiding out in the sanctum sanctorium of the vast and nefarious El Jefe empire with the Great One because the Heir is presently holding a sleepover, and matters elsewhere in the Palace are somewhat noisy. . .
FLINKY, by the way, usually insists on her name appearing in all capital letters. No doubt she wishes me to remember who the real Jefe is.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cuba Libre is Coming. . .Venezuela is Going

Hugo Chavez says that Castro is dying, or more accurately, "battling for his life." Not before time. Still not time to pop the champagne corks, but it's still not too early, as Belmont Club points out, to begin thinking about the post-tyrant era.
Unfortunately, as Belmont Club points out, Moonbat Chavez is down in Caracas just itching to fill Fidel's smelly old fatigue uniform. Moonbat is young, and his country much richer. Chavez is in the process of getting himself full dictatorial powers -- there is a bill working through the puppet Venezuelan parliament giving Chavez the power to rule by decree for 18 months. What do you bet it passes ? The legislation bears the same name as the bill that gave Hitler similar powers in Germany, the "Enabling Act."
Soon he will have the power to proceed against subversives, purge his military and bureaucracy, bring the bar, the media and the judiciary into, oh, call it "coordination" with the government, and get rid of problem children in the National Assembly. He's already moving to form a single leftist party, which before long is going to be the only party. The next Enabling Act will be permanent.
Might want to think on buying Miami real estate. Cubans thinking about better times may be getting liquid and selling, but lots of new folks will probably be coming from further south. I bet property values there are headed straight up.

Iran's Powerful Allies

Mahmoud "Mad Jad" Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic now, in addition to Russia and China, have yet another ally to deploy against the United States, its armed forces, and any attempt to forcibly interfere with Iran's nuclear program.
Yesterday, Democratic leaders, who claim to be members of the US Congress, and not some foreign legislative body, warned President Bush not to launch an attack against Iran without first seeking approval from Congress, reports the AP. "The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization" said Senate Ayatollah Harry Reid.
Not to be outdone, the AP says that last week Senate Foreign Relations Committee "Imam Joe" Biden asked President Bush to explain whether the adminstration thinks it can attack Iran or Syria "without the authorization of Congress, which does not now exist."
Meanwhile, the International Herald Tribune reports that the Iranians are ready to start large-scale uranium enrichment -- a necessary step in the fuel cycle on the road to producing a nuclear weapon.
That's really good of Harry and Joe to tell the Iranians they don't have to worry about the American military showing up to spoil the enrichment party. No matter what the Iranians might do, our own Ayatollahs are in effect saying: cooler heads are now in charge in Congress, to enforce the common interest of the whole world in controlling the rampaging US military and the imperialist Bush administration.
Why don't the Demos just ask the UN or the EU to send a High Commissioner or an occupation administrator to rule us till Bush leaves office ?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mondull on Cheney

At a three-day conference on Jimmy Carter's presidency at the University of Georgia, former US Vice-President Walter Mondale criticised Vice-President Cheney, saying that his old boss, the aforementioned peanut-farmer President, would never have stood for Cheney's actions.
Boy, where to begin ? Mondale holding Carter up as a leadership example ? Isn't that like getting management secrets from Enron, or tactical pointers from General Custer ?
Damn, a three-day conference on the Carter presidency ? Sounds like an absolute snooze-a-rama of a good time. All due respect, but Vice-President Mondull should fit right in. Maybe, say, five minutes on the first day for all the accomplishments, then a very loooooong lunch break before starting the 2.99 days to be spent on boredom, disaster and malaise. Wake me for the Peanut Farmer's speech on "nuwk-a-yr powifforation."
Maybe they imported Ted Koppel to play the old ABC Nightline Iran hostage crisis theme song every hour. You know: "Da da DA da. . .Hour 4,005 in the Carter Conference" -- because the attendees probably thought the thing dragged on longer than the Iran hostage crisis. NoDoz sales in the U-Ga area were no doubt up, up, up. . .

Some Diplomatic Whining

The US criticized China yesterday over its anti-satellite missile test last 11 January; in which the Chinese used (possibly) a KT-2 missile (a modified Dong Feng 31 ICBM) to destroy an old Chinese weather satellite. (Thanks for the Telegraph link, T).

The AP and the Daily Telegraph both quote National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe as saying that China’s “development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area” and that the US and other countries have expressed “concern” to the Chinese.

You bet the US is concerned: the US military depends on satellites for communications and reconnaissance. Development of reliable anti-satellite weapons means that the US will have to expend resources to protect or replace its space assets if needed. Anti-satellite weapons are cheap compared to the required countermeasures. No surprise that China is building them.

The unbelievable part is the nature of the US rhetorical response. “[I]nconsistent with the spirit of cooperation…in the civil space area.” Humph. I guess the NSC could have said something to look stupider, if their eggheads had really worked on it. I bet the Chinese military had some spirits and a few laughs over the “spirit of cooperation.”

Is Mr. Johndroe serious ? No, I’m not saying we should be going to war with them, or doing anything whatever rash – testing things that go boom is what great powers do from time to time. But why say anything at all, beyond simple acknowledgement that the test took place ? The most appropriate response would be naval maneuvers in the Taiwan straits, or a few tests of various gadgets of our own (such as the missile defense systems we are working on), not some stupid statement gassing about “cooperation in the civil space area.” Mr. Johndroe’s comments sound like something a child says when he’s whining about the schoolyard bully.

Confederate Heroes Day

(an annual post)
. . . I feel no hostility to you, Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I cannot now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well: and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people whom I represent towards those whom you represent. I therefore feel that I but express their desire when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceful relations with you, though we must part. . .The reverse may bring disaster on every portion of the country; and if you will have it thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered them from the power of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear; and thus, putting our trust in God and in our own firm hearts and strong arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may.

Jefferson Davis, Farewell Address to the U.S. Senate, 21 January 1861. (From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Vol. 7: 1861, LSU Press, 1992).
With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State. . .I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword.
I know you will blame me, but you must think as kindly as you can, and believe that I have endeavored to do what I thought right. . .May God guard and protect your and yours and shower upon you everlasting blessings. . .
Robert E. Lee, to his sister, Anne Marshall, 20 April 1861. (From The Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee, Clifford Dowdey, Ed., Da Capo, 1987).
Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee, General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, and the 19th day of January is still recognized here in Texas as “Confederate Heroes Day,” a State holiday. Things being what they are, it is unlikely that the Texas statute book will honor Confederate heroes for very much longer, and like “un-persons” whom the Soviet Communist Party wished to banish from public view, Lee, Jefferson Davis and everything else to do with the Confederate States of America will soon vanish down the memory-hole. Our children, if they are wise, will learn to in public at least, mouth the proper politically correct platitudes and to recite on command the carefully packaged, all-inclusive happy pabulum that passes now for history in our schools.
We are told this is all for the best, but it doesn’t mean some of us have to like it. The names of Lee, Davis and legions of others who gave all they had for Southern independence, whose names would be household words, the Washingtons and Decaturs of a new country -- had they but won -- are becoming obscure to non-historians, except inasmuch as they serve the purposes of modern politicians and shills for various causes who promote their agendas by damning the memory of the dead.
Yes, the war was partly about slavery, and the end of that beastly institution was an unmitigated blessing. Yes, scum have stolen their flag and cloaked their racist fantasies in its folds. But that’s not the whole truth about the War for Southern Independence (proper name of the Civil War), any more than the War for American Independence (proper name of the American Revolution) was all about a tax on tea.
The 258,000 southerners who died for the independence of the Confederate States, and their comrades who survived the war to rebuild their broken civilization, are long beyond caring, and don’t require our approval or justification for their sacrifices. As so many said at the time, they believed they were taking up arms for the most worthy cause imaginable -- protection of their homes from hostile invasion, and to vindicate the same principle Americans died for in 1776: the idea that government should rest on the consent of the governed.
Americans not connected with the military in some way have largely experienced war a tragedy that happens in other places. Not so the War for Southern Independence, which was fought mostly in – and devastated – the American south. Despite the efforts and sacrifices of so many, Confederate soldiers were unable to successfully defend their country. American cities and fields became battlegrounds, and armies moved and camped in what are sometimes literally our backyards. American cities -- mostly in the South were sacked and burned, and homes were plundered by soldiers speaking the same language, and often the same dialect, and American women and children became refugees.
When all was over, the dust settled, and the pain and shouting but a memory; America was the better for the end of slavery, but when the Federal Government forced its yoke at gunpoint on those who did not want it, America lost something precious also. Thankfully those days are past, but they are not totally forgotten. We of course remember the victors: Mr. Lincoln has a memorial in Washington, but his real monument is the country and world we now inhabit. But some of us remember others too…Lee, Davis, Micah Jenkins, Johnston Pettigrew, Cleburne, Jackson, Raphael Semmes, Maxcy Gregg, Thomas R.R. Cobb, thousands of others long dead. To borrow Mr. Khrushchev’s memorable phrase, these will not be forgotten, by some of us, until shrimp learn to sing.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

18 January 1871

Today is the anniversary, in 1871, of the proclamation of Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, as German Emperor (Deutscher Kaiser), inaugurating the German Empire, which lasted until its untimely demise in the German Revolution of 1918, near the end of World War I.

Kaiser Wilhelm’s elevation took place in the middle of the Franco-Prussian War, while the Prussian and other German armies were besieging Paris. The birth of the German Empire was both figuratively and literally over the dead body of Napoléon III’s French Empire (related post here), as the proclamation of Wilhelm as Kaiser, in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, (subject of Anton Alexander von Werner’s 1877 painting Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches, reproduced above), rather tactlessly underscored.

Kaiser Wilhelm, quiet, courteous and retiring, and so much unlike his better-known, bumptious grandson, Wilhelm II – never at all wanted to be Emperor, being content to remain King of Prussia. However, the man in the center of the above picture, (the mustached fellow in the white cavalry uniform), his chancellor, Otto von Bismarck – insisted. Bismarck, the brilliant but unstable “Iron Chancellor," engineered three wars: (the Franco-Prussian War, the Austro-Prussian War, and the Danish-Prussian War); created the German Empire; and finally, stayed in power too long -- doing much too much to ruin his own creation.

Proclaiming the Empire at the Château de Versailles, home of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, was singularly inauspicious, as any astrologer could have explained. As Sir Alistair Horne pointed out, this circumstance of the German Empire’s beginning– born in a palace dedicated à toutes les gloires de la France -- cursed the new German state’s whole existence, and was an mortal insult to France that would ultimately be avenged in oceans of blood.

But that was for another time. The assembled kings, princes and generals, plus all the politicians and hangers-on, loudly cheered their new Kaiser, and no doubt adjourned to enjoy some good champagne, assure their Kaiser of their loyalty, and congratulate the great Chancellor; before dispersing to their commandeered apartments in the vast palace, or their less-comfortable billets around besieged Paris. In the Hall of Mirrors, with the party over, the palace servants and attendants remained to clean up. In that same room, 48 years later, the bill would be presented.

Trouble in River City

While Americans worry about Lindsay's Lohan's progress in rehab, tiny reinforcements to its undersized military in Iraq and Afghanistan and bombs built by second-rate banana Islamic republics. . .they're missing the Yuan in their future. Chinese foreign exchange reserves have topped $1 trillion.
What will John Chinaman do with all this money ? President Hu Jintao told us back on 27 December that it was time for China to build a real Navy; to "make sound preparations for military struggles" (Economist, 6 January 2007, p. 34). I bet President Hu doesn't care about Lindsay Lohan or the Super Bowl; let alone have to put up with Nancy Pelosi and the New York Times singing "Kumbaya."
Are your kids learning Chinese ? Especially the Mandarin words for "yes, boss, right away?" Maybe they'll be working in resorts catering to new rich Chinese, but hey, at least it will be in the world of New Politics, Hope, Peace, Understanding and a Higher Minimum Wage that St. Barak, Teddy, Harry, Hillary and Nancy are gonna give us.
Sing it ! You know you want to.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fed-Ex Goes Nationwide

The Boytoy Formerly Known as K-Fed, now called Fed-Ex since Britney Spears cancelled his meal ticket. . .has a new job, in a Super Bowl ad. No doubt about it, Fed-Ex has gone Nationwide.
Meanwhile...the Super Bowl has evidently banned Britney from an NFL Network promo. The Super Bowl is banning Britney ? What drugs are the NFL bosses on ?
Okay, I admit it, I just wanted to make bad Fed-Ex puns and link to a pic of Britney. Moreover, for once, I wanted to talk about what is Really Important.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Scottish Independence ?

Today is the 300th anniversary of the ratification of the Act of Union, which united the Parliaments of Scotland and England, and created the Kingdom of Great Britain. As every fan of Mel Gibson's dramatic but rather fictional film Braveheart could tell you, the unity of the two crowns was procured by the English at gunpoint (plus a Royal marriage or three). Now, lots of Scots, and not a few English, would like to undo the union and create an independent Scotland.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says that Scottish Independence would be "crazy." The cynic in me says that if it's "crazy," it must be bound to happen. More seriously (?) Prime Minister Blair says that "separation is a retreat into an old-fashioned view of the world that would be bizarre in the 21st Century."
This sounds so much like the first President Bush's "Chicken Kiev" speech in which the President denounced "suicidal nationalism" and pronounced the choice between Gorbachev's USSR and "independence-minded" leaders in the USSR a false one: thus pouring cold water on the aspirations of Ukranians wanting out of the Soviet Union. Workaday practical politicans such as the first President Bush and Prime Minister Blair distrust mere emotional and cultural totems like nationalism: considering them, at bottom, as effects of nonproductive and dangerous romanticism. Amazing how often movements driven by emotions trip-up "practical" leaders.
I'm an Anglophile, and the diminished state of modern Britain is rather melancholy for me to contemplate. Still, I'm also a Southerner, with an instinctive sympathy for secessionists. In consequence, it's hard for me to decide who to root for here. If the Scots want independence, probably they should have it, although I can see the "crazy" argument too. The Scottish National Party (SNP) -- the vehicle of the pro-independence faction -- is going all-out to win the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May. You can bet your last Queen's shilling (if you still have one) that the Labour Party, which depends on Scottish votes to keep its majority, together with the UK's chattering classes, will go all out to see that cooler heads prevail in May, and my guess would be that there is just enough time for this to happen.
Still, Tony Blair saying independence is "crazy" is possibly a good sign for the SNP.

Brooding and Freezing

El Jefe has been brooding on his hacienda and is now back in Ciudad El Jefe freezing, and catching up on things. The secret police reports have piled up, not to mention all the mundane and boring things summed up under the label "work." A real post will no doubt appear soon.
Meanwhile, lots to read in the world . . .Ronald A. Cass over at Real Clear Politics invites us to speculate as to why former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger felt compelled to turn into Sandy Burglar and filch classifed materials from the National Archives. Something really sinister and important had to be going on for Mr. Burglar to run such huge risks, but nobody, least of all the media, seems to want to find out precisely what. Spook 86 at In from the Cold has some interesting comments on this case here, and (especially) here.
Down in sunny Havana, Fidel Castro is reportedly in "grave" condition says the AP, quoting the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Apparently that's not the AP copy editor making a pun, but what the Spanish paper actually says. El Pais apparently has "unnamed sources" in the Spanish hospital where one of Castro's doctors works, which makes the report very interesting indeed. Maybe Saddam's gonna have that new roommate after all.
Finally, Baron Bodissey over at Gates of Vienna discusses Senator Hillary Clinton's recent call on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The Baron correctly points out that the President-General probably thinks he is talking to the next US president, which, as the Baron tells us, is an assumption which the Senator no doubt shares. What this might mean for Pakistan is less clear, but I suspect that a Democratic administration will not be good news for the President-General, or for Pakistan in general. The Baron's piece also discusses a cleverly photo-shopped portrait on the Senator's website.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Next Time, Maybe It Carries Live Ordinance. . .

Regime Change Iran notes that Fars News Agency is reporting that a UFO has crashed in central Iran. . .
Bet that UFO ain't from outer space, although if the Little Green Men woke up with Mahmoud "Mad Jad"Ahmadinejad and his Mad Mullah crew looking at them, they'd be sure to know that they had crash-landed among some real Space Aliens.
Nope, it's not Martians. Bet that UFO comes from, oh, San Diego or something ? Watch the Birdie, Mad Jad. No doubt the Bearded Ones will have their UN mouthpieces do some bothersome droning about it. One fine day, specially if the Mullahs keep meddling with the neighbors, and building things they shouldn't, maybe the UFO's won't be carrying film.

Lets Make a Deal

The new UN (United Dictators) Secretary-General, the Hon. Ban Ki-moon, says that he agrees with his unlamented predecessor, Kofi Annan, and that he wants the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closed, Reuters reports.
In a spirit of concilation and cooperation, lets talk with Moonie. I see no reason we can't just sit down with Mr. K-Moon and his lawyers and resolve this whole matter with a frank, open and friendly exchange of views.
I don't guess simply shooting the Guantanamo inmates, or turning the prison into a practice target range for naval gunfire would fly with the Secretary-General, let alone the New York Times, and the "world community," tempting as this might be. (In a fantasy world, the reaction of the lawyers and chattering classes is by far the best argument for this solution).
But we can't do that, worse luck, leaving the field open for a true multilateral and negotiated solution. Lets make a deal. Hey there, Mr. Secretary-General K-Moon: the US will close Guantanamo, if you'll close the UN.

Bush's Speech -- First Thoughts

President Bush's speech last night promised 21,500 more troops for the struggle in Iraq. It appears to me that he plans to obtain these troops by extending the tours of soldiers already in country, and speeding-up projected deployments already in the pipeline in order to smash the rebellion in Baghdad. Replacements for troops whose tours were ending would become reinforcements. Going on what was said last night, President Bush’s plans have much in common with Frederick W. Kagan’s AEI Institute plan: Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, linked here, and which has been discussed extensively in, among other places, the Belmont Club blog.

The version I saw was dated 17 December 2006, and has since been updated somewhat. With that proviso in mind, the AEI scheme I read involves increasing the number of US brigades operating in Baghdad from five to ten, and the President’s announced plan tracks this. The President also said that a total of 18 Iraqi Army and police brigades would be put in Baghdad. Presently, the Iraqis have four Army brigades (from 6th Division), in the city.

The AEI proposal, though, was essentially a discussion of where troops might be found; and the importance of finding them – and not a detailed operational plan governing their employment. The Belmont Club’s discussion of the AEI proposal is worth reading after a look at the President’s speech.

The AEI plan was pretty skimpy on what, exactly, is supposed to happen at the sharp end: that is, how the platoons and companies involved will clear the Bad Guys from Baghdad. Will the US troops have free use of their artillery, helicopter gunships and their air support ? Do the police have arrest lists, or any idea where the rebels may be hiding ? What's being done to get this information ? Will we be aggressively going hunting for these people and their arms stashes, or are we just providing passively patrolling targets for the rebels to bomb and snipe at ?

How about the command arrangements ? The President says the Iraqis are going to appoint a military commander for Baghdad, “and two deputy commanders.” Maybe one for each side of the river…or maybe an Iraqi and an American deputy ? It will be interesting to see if American troops wind up under an Iraqi commander, even in theory. I’d be more impressed if an American commander was running the show in Baghdad – that would tell me the Iraqis meant for a serious housecleaning to take place – and that they were putting foreigners in charge of it so they could blame them for excesses later. The Iraqi politicos, after all, have to live in Iraq.

Will the commander have plenary military and civil power ? Will an American General be there to jog his elbow ? Will the Iraqis arrange for the TV media to be kept away from things they do not need to see ? Are the Iraqis going to quit their silly “catch and release” programs for rebels – putting the villains our troops catch right back on the streets ? Will the troops at last deal with the Sadr City militias ? Hopefully and surely, whatever the White House and Pentagon have cooked-up involves a detailed operational plan. More on that later.

But for me, the most interesting part of the speech, by far, was this passage:

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity - and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

(emphasis in underline supplied).
No equivocation here. Iran and Syria are in the war. The President says the US will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria, and “seek out and destroy” the networks providing advanced weaponry to our enemies. Those networks are in Iran and Syria. Is the President talking about destroying them there ? Maybe the Iraqis will be given the means to “seek out and destroy" them there. Wouldn’t that be interesting ?

Meanwhile, "neutral" neighbors and war supplies. This all sounds real familiar: maybe a nostalgia trip down the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

As if it wasn’t clear enough that Mad Jad Ahmadinejad and the Persians are in the crosshairs, there’s the next paragraph:

We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing - and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
Patriot is a long range, high altitude air defense system, primarily useful against high-flying aircraft, cruise missiles, or, as many will remember from Gulf War I – Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, such as Scuds. The Iraqi rebels don’t seem to have an air force or Scuds, but some of the neighbors -- guess which ones – do. Also, carrier battle groups do not give us any capability against the rebels that cannot be more efficiently handled from bases in Iraq or Kuwait – but they would be useful for closing, say, Iranian ports.

Finally, the reference to Turkey is interesting. The President might be talking there about Iraq and Turkey’s common border in Kurdistan. But Turkey also has a border with Iran – and with Syria. President Bush dropped the Turkey reference in right after mention of the Patriot. Is Turkey being offered some Patriot batteries ?
The Washington Post reports this morning that last night, apparently following the speech, US troops raided the Iranian consulate in Irbil, Iraq (Kurdistan), detained at least five staff members and hauled off computers and documents. A consulate is normally considered sovereign territory, and diplomats may normally, not be detained. Legally speaking, anyway. Evidently, the President is not fooling around.
Pressure is clearly being ratcheted-up on Iran. Now lets watch Syria. . .and Lebanon. Things will probably get boiling there, soon enough.

What a speech. You’d never know the President was isolated, hamstrung by a defeatist Congress and press that are absolutely salivating at the prospect of an American defeat. Here’s hoping the plan works, because barring a miracle, it’s the last shot.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dealt With as Wolves Are

Of the 6 billion people on this Earth, not one killed more people than Saddam Hussein. And not just killed but tortured and mutilated -- doing so often with his own hands and for pleasure. It is quite a distinction to be the preeminent monster on the planet. If the death penalty was ever deserved, no one was more richly deserving than Saddam Hussein.

Charles Krauthammer “The Hanging: Beyond Travesty.” Washington Post, Friday, 5 January 2007, p. A17.

The last topic that day [at Yalta] was the treatment of war criminals. At Teheran, Stalin had proposed taking 50,000 Germans and shooting them without trial. Churchill, who had been so offended by this at the time that he had walked out of the room in protest, now said that a list of war criminals would be drawn up and those on the list brought to trial, though personally he was inclined to feel that ‘they should be shot as soon as they were caught and their identity established.’ Stalin, hitherto an advocate of summary executions, now claimed to favour the judicial process. Roosevelt commented that it should not be ‘too judicial’; journalists and photographers should be kept out ‘until the criminals were dead’.

Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, p. 821 (Henry Holt,1992).

proscription, the publication of a notice, especially. . .(2) a list of Roman citizens who were declared outlaws and whose goods were confiscated. . .The proscribed were hunted down and executed in Rome and throughout Italy by squads of soldiers, and the co-operation of the victims' familes and slaves and of the general public was sought by means of rewards and punishments. . .The sons and grandsons of the proscribed were debarred from public life. . .The impression left was profound. . .

Hornblower and Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, p. 1260 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2003, p. 1260).

It was a proscription notice, bearing the Royal seals and signatures, describing the individuals’ crimes, and ending with an identical proclamation: to be cast out from all protection of law; declared to be among the enemies-general of humankind, to be dealt with as wolves are.

Jerry Pournelle, S.M. Stirling, Prince of Sparta: A Novel of Falkenberg’s Legion (Baen Books, 1993, p. 281) (Roman type originally in Italics).

The dust has settled a little from Saddam Hussein’s execution by the Iraqi authorities, and it seems like an appropriate time to close the books on the subject of the Bad Man’s demise, although the effects of the chaos and misery of which the dictator was the author will be felt long after all of us are dead.

There have been complaints by lots of people who should know better that the processes surrounding Saddam’s trial and execution were less than Harvard Law School perfect. Charles Krauthammer, (for whom I have the greatest respect), joins them in the column quoted above, calling the execution a “. . .a rushed, botched, unholy mess that exposed the hopelessly sectarian nature of the Maliki government.” Perhaps. Mr. Krauthammer calls the proceedings “beyond travesty.” Viewed as a legal and judicial proceeding, of course it was; but it was bound to be, because it mistakenly commingled law and politics.

I normally agree with Mr. Krauthammer, but I have no sympathy with Mr. Krauthammer’s views on Saddam's death. I would agree that the tape of the hanging shows that the police and security organs of the new Iraqi government are definitely in need of a purge, and that many so-called Iraqi policemen ought to find themselves in the dungeons formerly occupied by Saddam and his henchmen – and their victims – or else in hastily dug ditches next to Mr. Saddam’s corpse. But this is in order to create reliable and obedient coercive instruments in the hands of the new government, and has nothing whatever to do with Saddam.

Perhaps I’m less troubled by vaporings on the moral and legal problems surrounding the trial and execution of Saddam because I’ve never thought the creation of “democracy” had anything to do with the war in Iraq. Due process for Saddam ? What foolishness ! Saddam got more due process than he gave thousands of others – much more, in fact than he deserved.

I don’t have much use for trials such as Saddam got, because, to begin with, they are victor’s justice dressed up in the sheep’s clothing of legal proceedings. No, my brothers, I’m not going softy-lefty, give me a second. Saddam unquestionably enjoyed the fairest trial and execution in Iraqi history, but Iraq as it exists is not a law-based state, and is not going to be for some time. Democracy in Iraq remains, and will remain, a chimera.

On some moral cosmic justice plane, Saddam no doubt got what was coming to him: but the whole result was foreordained, because Saddam lost the war - and Saddam of course knew it. Saddam’s death was not about cosmic justice: it was politically useful and necessary for the Iraqis and for the United States, and that’s all there was to it. I’ll say this for the Bad Man: much as he deserved his fate, and deserved the squalid process by which he met it – he died very well.

In general, show trials for Saddam and his ilk are somewhat useful for educating other tyrants as to the fatal and humiliating consequences of crossing Uncle Sam, and for allowing aggrieved Iraqis and others to have some revenge and see Mr. Big Get His, (which stores up other problems for later). But the whole transaction was, fundamentally and necessarily, a demonstration of power, and not properly a judicial proceeding. Does anybody really think the Iraqis were not going to kill Saddam ? The killing of Saddam was politics, not law. It could not be anything else.
In general, I don’t approve of handing Saddams over to tribunals, or to the “judicial process,” a la Nuremberg. Disposition of vanquished enemies is a political matter. As Winston Churchill recognized, when the Americans came up with the Nuremburg trial idea, such proceedings give the lawyers and other chatterers too much self-importance, and create bad precedent and problems for the victors in the future.
Mind you, the people arraigned at Nuremberg then, and in Iraq now -- were wolves who needed killing – but far better to simply shoot persons like Saddam, Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, and Osama Bin Laden (one fine day), immediately and out of hand, once they’re dragged out of whatever hole they crawled into. But if you think the end of Saddam was about, or could in any way be about – law -- then you’re deluding yourself.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Slump and Slumming

Somewhat of a writing slump around ol' Cuidad El Jefe. Haven't felt too productive since just before Christmas, and just not back into the swing of things, even though '07 is well and truly underway. Probably because most of the somewhat dim El Jefe brainpower is consumed with catching up at work after more than a week off, (Christmas till after New Years). In consequence, I'm being somewhat lazy and not too prolific, at least here.
In any case, I crave your indulgence, and am certain that matters will return to normal soon.
I see that Ted Kennedy, one of my personal bête noires, gave a speech on Iraq today, and I'm of half a mind to look the thing up and listen to it just so I can get good and angry and feel like writing. However, I shall probably hold fire on that subject until after the President talks tomorrow.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Taking a Day Off. . .

Tongues are all a-wagging round Washington, and in Political Commentator land because the Democrats running Congress have made it a three-day weekend after promising that Congress would work five days a week.
Rumor has it, reports Drudge, that the solons have taken the day off for the Ohio State-Florida football game.
So what's the big deal anyway ? These are Congressmen. Of course they break their promises ! Duh level stuff here.
Anyway, we should thank God they're spending today getting their tailgate party preparations made -- that means they're not figuring stupid ways to squander our money: spending billions on Boondoggles of Compassion and Hornswoggles of Fairness; and all the while Gobsmacking about Justice.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Bush Impeachment Watch, Chapter I

So what's your bet on when the House of Representatives will pass Articles of Impeachment ? My bet is that articles will reach the floor between 15 April and 15 June. Watch, it's gonna happen. The loonies owe their backers.

Khamenei Not Dead Yet ?

Okay, so it doesn't look like "Supreme Jurisprudent" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is dead yet. My bad, but it's the thought that counts, eh ?
Not to worry, Saddam's prospective new roommates in Old Nick's Dictator Dorm, Ali Shah and Fidel -- will be along soon enough. Come to think of it, throw Mad Jad into that mix and you'd have a whole suite of crazy, swinging dictator guys, all ready to Paint the Town Red, as if Hell needed that color.
I bet they'll get on famously Down There. Fidel can get Mad Jad to trade in those cheap suits on some proper dictator garb; Saddam can teach them all the proper way to glower; and Ali Shah can impart some needed stogy-old-man dignity to the whole tyrant business.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

More Personnel Changes

The US Ambassador to Iraq, the Honorable Zalmay Khalilzad, will shortly be appointed UN Ambassador, ABC News reports (via Drudge). Perhaps Ambassador Khalilzad would consider that a promotion. I wouldn't.
A vacancy in Baghdad. With General George Casey (US commander in Iraq) on the outs, the President is evidently making a clean sweep of the country team in Iraq.
Former Spook at In from the Cold disagrees with me, and he's mighty well informed, but I still like my earlier prognostications on Ambassador Negroponte being turned into a sort of super-diplo-spook Czar for Iraq.

Khamenei Dead

The Iranian Rahbare Enghelab, (the “Leader of the Revolution”); and Valî-ye Faqîh, (“Guardian Jurisprudent”) – just say “Grand Poobah” -- Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, affectionally known here as "Ali Shah," is reported by Pajamas Media to have died. (Hat tip: Confederate Yankee). The Ultimate Iran Source, Michael Ledeen, confirms.
Among other things, Ali Shah is thought to have authorized the bombing of the Khobar Towers, in Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 US servicemen in 1999, as well as a Saudi national, and injured 372 other persons. No question Khamenei was a hard man:"human rights are a weapon in the hands of our enemies to fight Islam," he once said.

A great disturbance in the Force. Emperor Palpatine is dead. While the furnaces in Hell are taking in fuel, what will Darth “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad do now ?

Personnel Changes

The Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador John Negroponte; the first person to hold this position, is leaving the post he assumed in April 2005 to become Deputy Secretary of State.

Even though he will be No. 2 behind Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, this appears to be a major comedown, as well as a blow to the morale and organizational cohesion of the US intelligence services, which have been in substantial disarray since 9/11.

What is going on here ? Ambassador Negroponte will face a Senate confirmation – and the loons are running the asylum now. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, now chaired by Joe Biden, is populated by such know-it-alls as Christopher Dodd, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and Russ Feingold, not to mention Saint Barack of Obama. I’m sure Senator Dodd will give us a long seminar on Ambassador Negroponte’s activities in Central America during the Contra War in Nicaragua.

The whole business is very strange. If Ambassador Negroponte is not working out as DNI, (which I do not for a moment believe), or otherwise in disgrace (also unlikely), then his departure would make sense. But why shuffle him to the State Department ? Ambassador Negroponte would appear to me to have entirely too much experience and clout for any Secretary of State’s comfort, and I cannot believe that Secretary Rice would be entirely comfortable with this. . .unless maybe she’s a short-timer ?

In any case, you don’t oust somebody big and then send him to an important post in one of the most leak-prone, troublesome departments in government. So, it seems that Ambassador Negroponte is not being ousted, or kicked sideways. . .he’s getting a real new job. But what kind of position ? Is this one of those Michael Corleone “stepping down” as Don deals ? Come to think of it, Ambassador Negroponte is more of a Republican Tom Hagen for intelligence world purposes – is he “no longer” the consigliere ? That is, is the spy boss just changing offices ?

I wonder if this has something to do with the apparently forthcoming new policy on Iraq ? Prior to becoming DNI, Ambassador Negroponte was in Baghdad. I wonder if he’s going back, this time with enough juice to boss around generals, diplomats and foreign heads of state ? The problem in Iraq, to my way of thinking, is more on the intelligence/secret police/paramilitary end of things than it is narrowly military, and it seems to fit Ambassador Negroponte's resume. If I were hiring fixers to send to Baghdad, Ambassador Negroponte's name would be top of my list. Either that, or he’s going to take a overdue hatchet to the State Department.
This is all speculation, and I can't wait to see some of the smarter speculators in the blogosphere weigh-in on this. I am really curious as to how this is going to unfold.
ADDENDUM (7:30 p.m. 4 Jan.): I confess, I'm mightily baffled by all this, if only because of the raft of confirmation hearings all this chair-shuffling is going to produce. Given the Wacko Party's running the necessary hearings; and that at least 35 percent of the inquisitors consider themselves Presidents-In-Waiting -- hearings aren't going to be good or fun, at least in the short term. In any case, Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters, and Former Spook, at In From the Cold both have views on this matter worth consideration.

Da New Year

El Jefe, back in his capital to face the post-holiday music -- has been buried in work, and dealing with some family issues, but posting will hopefully resume on a more sustained basis soon.
I've recently switched to the new Blogger, or Blogger Beta, or whatever it is, and want to set up those nifty classification labels I see on other blogs...but I have 590 posts to label. Thinking about doing that sort of makes you wish you'd stayed in bed.